Know Better, Do Better

That five plus minute film would not have been possible without the following people, whom I admire and respect to the core of my being. Let me introduce you to them in story form.

In the gut wrenching weeks following the Sandy Hook school shootings, the parents in my classroom urged me to do something to get a message out to parents about the impact of violent media on children. They signed on, they gave their blessing, and they kept asking about the progress I was making. The nudged, and nudged, and continue nudging.

The first cup of coffee I had to discuss the project was with Dr. David Walsh. Dave has been a source of strength for so many parents and parent educators in Minnesota. His work at the National Institute on Media and the Family and beyond has helped so many educators find a confident, educated voice to teach parents about the impact of media on the lives of families. He graciously and generously offered his time, talent, and expertise to the film. His endorsement gave me wings. The icing on the cake is the friendship we have forged based on a shared passion for making the world a better place for kids.

Joe Thornton set out to collect footage of children and teachers in a child care center. Joe is a talented filmmaker and a great dad. His early support of the film meant the world to me.  Denise and Phyllis at LeCreche Childcare Center were kind enough to open their doors and speak their passion about our collective responsibility to protect children. From here, I had a foundation to build the project on.

My legislative framework came from the direction and expertise of Paul Winkelaar at Education Minnesota, Representatives Erin Murphy and Gene Pelowski at the Minnesota House of Representatives,  Commissioner Brenda Cassellius at the Minnesota Department of Education, and Governor Mark Dayton. Their early support, feedback, and direction helped me recalibrate and dig in for the long haul. Public policy work is tedious and hard and most of it is done in uncomfortable shoes.

The project moved to Winona and to my alma mater, Winona State University, where five eager students in need of a capstone signed on to give the project a go.  The project moved forward and gained clarity under their direction and yet, it was still not what I had hoped it would be. I started to feel discouraged and the parents in my classroom nudged. One in particular thought it might be a good idea to have coffee with a friend, a filmmaker who had just returned to Winona from California. Enter Jason Frickson, a brilliant filmmaker who “got me” from the get go. I have put him through the wringer again and again and again. I have been fussy, blunt, and very diva-ish at times, and Jason? Jason rolls, edits, and reshoots with a calm demeanor I admire and aspire to.  Jason and I want you to know that all filming of children in front of television sets was done using a green screen. No children were exposed to violent media during the making of the film. Whew!

The movie features parents and children I am blessed to work with at Early Childhood Family Education here in Winona. Many thanks and many more hugs go out to the Hancock Family, the Jewison Family, the Mulkey Family, the Sonnenberg Family, the McCaskill Family, the Schell Family, the Sharma Family and  the dozens of families who signed on to support and endorse the project.  Beth Martinka gave me a logo in no time and made sure it was something that fit the project.

I had a conversation with a man in Boston about the project in March of 2012.  He felt so strongly about the idea of digital parent education that he wrote me a check. Confidence is a gift. He knows who he is and he knows how grateful I am. I am surrounded by great people each and every day. I am a lucky gal.

I have shown the film to hundreds of parents, providers, educators, and legislators. I am ready to work to take it to the next place. Admittedly, I am not entirely sure where that is. When I do know, I will be sure to let you know. Until then, please watch it and share it with parents of small children. Stay tuned…..